Apparently, the Papua New Guineans have thousands of languages, over a quater of all the languages on the planet are spoken on this one fairly small chunk of land…
I mean, apart from the arduous climbing across razor sharp mountain ranges covered in brambles to get to a destination at which you might wind up on the host’s menu?
What does having a language for every village say about them?
Well, they don’t get about much.
They don’t need to.
Something common to these disparate groups is a sysem of kinship so elaborate that who you can marry is veeeery limited. They remain un-entangled by the tendrils of excessive option.
Who you get to be with is pretty much a done deal. So, no frenetic dating or anxious wondering if your new beau is ‘the One’. No eternal wandering or having to make the ‘right’ choice from overwhelming eligibility, further disoriented by the tidal wash of hormones induced by fantasies of unlimited potential partners.
You can sit back.
And needn’t learn the languages further than the bend in the river.
Sometimes its not just practical but psychologically more healthy to have less. Children feel more relaxed when choices are made simple and adults find it easier to establish their priorities.
Too many options smacks of being fobbed off. The promise of endless choice is compensation for something, a prelude to manipulation. We are collectively the spoilt brat who has too much, sent mad by excess, whilst only able to cast about symbolically for what is really needed.
And so we consume rather than feed. Rather than feel the emptiness such that something might come of it, we concretise it into a cupboard of 126 pairs of shoes, the longing for that holiday destination, lottery win fantasises, dream guy, latest gadget, must have….
or just the mundane dreary crud of eternal dissatisfaction.
You should have more.
And its true.
I once asked an African man at a rural bus stop in Matabeleland when the bus would come.
‘Today’, he assured me.
You should have more of that.
The problem with our deification of the persona, culminating in the dark cults of Celebrity, Bling and Political Correctness, is not simply that it is frivolous.
It’s that it cannot help but oppress you for your own good. Firstly, because it assumes everyone else is an idiot, a role to which many will gladly abdicate and children in particular are liable to embrace as life’s expectation of them.
But mostly its because any conviction that one has arrived to the point where personal epiphany is codified and exported at the end of a gun has only one thing left to acheive.
The dying without falling down variety of death.
Or maybe that too.
Either way Nature will be done with you.
and we wonder why our culture is anxious.
The fear of death itself (second only in terror to the thought that one might be condemned to sit on a cloud and forced to learn an instrument forever) is one we can scarcely catch from the corner of our eye. Death is something that happens to other people.
Yet there is something way scarier than death.
”The refusal of the loan of life because of the debt of death.” V. Frankl.
This ‘no-ological neurosis’ to paraphrase Frankl, is the provisional life, the narcissistic paddy that eternally wants it’s options and the tossing of everything out of the pram that goes with the wish to be ignorant, counter spiraling into the sweaty warmth of Them, who’ll grant that wish to be alleviated of life’s cares…
but at the expense of aliveness itself.
‘There is only one thing that I fear, not to be worthy of life’s suffering’. F. Dostoevsky.
We clamour for freedom forgetting what it entails, or intuiting it sufficiently to quietly substitute the project of exercising life’s sparkly options instead, pursuing the life that maximises choice, even if having seven types of cola or peanut butter means the oppression, subjugation and un-freedom ofself and others.
It suits us to believe that our freedom, if not our worth and redemption, is rooted in having as much time for pouring over life’s infinite catalogues that the day will allow. It suits us because we need not reflect too long or hard on our actual lack, the loss that goes with not following your own star, the disclaimers we want divine signatures for before we risk stepping the crooked miles that are the Way.
Freedom has never been about having all you want or doing whatever you please despite intense media pressure upon us to swallow such values as tomorrow’s possibility whilst slapping our wrists for stepping out of line today.
What we think of as freedom is actually a form of mental slavery.
The lifestyles we largely espouse, codified in statutes like the right to pursue happiness, as if it were a thing, are really no more than a constitutional promise to look the other way whilst we satisfy the regressive need to have seven types of cheese on our pizza…
….provided you live in debt as a wage slave and swallow the cheese on the nine o’clock news along with your dinner.
The fact that we’re living with chronic anxiety, and attacking the world that contains us as our best solution to the problem, gets all shmeered over withpromises of…
the glittering Thing.
The next lover, the dream holiday, the perfect job.
‘The sun will come out tomorrow, so you got to hang on till tomorrow come what may! Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow.’ Barbra Striesland.
Despit all the in-fighting Christianity, Islam and Judaism, all have something in common, the loss of the Divine Feminine has produced an unwitting failure to live in the present a veiw symbolically ensconced in their respective visions of Paradise.
For the Christians… Heaven is the future paradise. The meek shall inherit… tomorrow.
For the Jews… One day, my son, one day God will keep his Covenant with his Chosen people…
And Islam goes even further, with promises of more virgins than you could possibly need or get through to anyone martyring themselves for Allah…at some point.
In the meantime put your shoulder to the wheel. We’ll stuff you like geese from the front whilst we shaft you like dogs from behind .